What it's like to be a mature student nurse

Hello, my name is Pete, student nurse. That is what it says on my name badge, and I am very proud of it.

Being a student nurse is the best thing I have ever done. It is tough at times, both physically and mentally, but it is so rewarding.

Student nurses are unique

'Normal' students typically can get up late, have lots of free time, can party all night and enjoy the extremely long holidays to travel and 'find themselves'. Nursing students are a different breed.

As a student nurse, you have to combine the academic work with the practical side on placements. Long days can be long, 7am starts until 7.30pm, and also night shifts. The room for partying and socialising is there, but it has to be managed.

Your terms are therefore longer, and you will be 'working' whilst students around you are partying, but ultimately you will become a registered nurse, and be a privileged professional.

You will be dealing with patients under many circumstances - from births, diagnosis of diseases, treatments, emergencies and deaths. You will deal with the patients and their relatives at times of stress, of anxiety, of sadness, of joy and of hope. What a privilege that is.

I became interested in nursing after looking after and losing my parents. Each time I was in hospital with them, and especially when I was in the hospice with my mum, I kept wanting to help the nursing staff.

I applied for the adult nursing degree, and was accepted. I have never looked back.

Mature students have a lot to offer

As a mature student I believe I can bring a lot to the nursing profession. I have found that either in university or on placement, being that bit older and with life experience has helped both me and my patients.

Patients have reacted to me well and are generally impressed that I am a nursing student at my time of life, and they have appreciated what I have done in my past. Being more mature, I find it easy to chat with patients and usually find something in common with them from my life experience.

Engaging with the patients and making sure that they feel that you know and understand them goes a long way in helping with their treatment and outcomes. Communication is of paramount importance in nursing.

You don’t have to have had a career as a carer or nursing assistant to apply for nursing, and skills from many areas can aid your application.

I qualified over 30 years ago as a pharmacist, and worked within hospital, then industry and community pharmacy. I joined the army and served for eight years in the infantry division before undertaking a law degree and legal practice course.

I have been able to utilise many of my skills obtained over the years and this has helped me as a mature student as it clearly demonstrates that skills are transferable.

Everything I have done has involved people, communication and dealing with various needs, but nothing has been more enlightening and fulfilling as my nurse training.

Part of a community

If you are willing and able I would recommend getting involved with the University on as many levels as possible. You get to see and do other things, and may even get to influence the course for future students.

I have been lucky to be a student ambassador, helping with open days and school visits. I have also been elected as a Student Voice Representative, and get to sit on academic boards and attend school and faculty meetings, where student input is sought and encouraged.

I have also been fortunate enough to go on the Erasmus exchange programme to Finland. What a fantastic opportunity to see a foreign country, experience student life there and work in their hospitals!

The staff at the University have been encouraging and supportive in everything I have wanted to do, whether it be seeking a particular placement, giving advice over assignments, supporting my exchange placement, providing me with many opportunities as a student ambassador, even being part of the interview process for new applicants to the course.

So if you are coming to an Open Day or interview for nursing, come and say hello, and ask me any questions you have about being a student nurse. I'll be happy to help. 


Want to follow in Pete's footsteps? Come to an Open Day and chat to staff and students about studying Nursing at USW. #USWFamily